Infinity Ward have become well known for their award winning Call of Duty series. Along with game developer Treyarch, Infinity Ward have created quite possibly the most well known game series of all time. Every game in the series created by Infinity Ward have received some sort of Game of the Year award (Call of Duty 1, Call of Duty 2 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare). Infinity Ward and Activision have hyped up this game like crazy, the marketing team really did their job as Infinity Ward stated they wanted this to be the biggest entertainment launch of all time. They shattered the theatrical box office and video game sales records for five-day worldwide sell through in dollars. Infinity Ward came through with what they had hoped for with the biggest entertainment launch in history and smashed the records with of approximately $550 million. After all these feats and achievements, can the game actually live up to the hype?
I'll try to keep this review as spoiler free as possible for those two members that haven't actually finished the game.
The game didn't go without it's controversy. In a level entitled "No Russian" players walk through an airport and massacre the entire population of unarmed civilians. There is an option to skip the level if you don't want to play through it, or you can simply play through and not slaughter any civilians. There's no penalty or reward for killing/not killing the civilians in the airport so it's okay to skip the level. Many have stated that the level serves no purpose to the story of the game at all and it's pointless to add it into the game. In hindsight, the level is important to the story and should be played through (Even if you have no intentions of killing the civilians). It builds up for a storyline later on in the game.
Meanwhile in Russia, the Russian Government said they had started recalling Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 from the shelves because of the controversial "No Russian" level. Game publisher Activision quickly came out and denied that the console versions of the game were recalled because the console versions were never actually released in Russia. Although the PC version of the game was censored because of Russia's lack of a games rating system.
In Australia, South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson (or "white knight" as he sometimes dubs himself) has gone on record and said that he is going to appeal the decision to give Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 an MA 15+ rating. If Michael Atkinson is successful with his appeal to the OFLC (Office of Film and Literature), Modern Warfare 2 will be refused classification here in Australia until a new submission is made that complys' with an MA 15+ rating (an edited or censored version of the game).
The game itself is brilliant, superb, top class etc. Gameplay is smooth and fluid and there's quite a lot of new features not seen in previous Call of Duty games before. Things such as snowmobiles, scuba diving, space missions and stealth. These new features break up the combat overly well and it's a nice break from the running and gunning style gameplay that Call of Duty games are known for.
Modern Warfare 2 doesn't use cutscenes but rather "real time events" aiming for more realistic situations. There's a whole lot of over the top explosive moments which can detach from the realism that it's trying to portray. All the voices are in sync with the talking mouths, which should be expected in all next gen games (although some have terrible voice syncing. Eg inFAMOUS).
Single player is short, really short. On regular difficulty (normal), the game can be finished in around 4 to 6 hours, which is even shorter than Call of Duty 4. The game length was a major criticism in the original game and here it's even shorter which is a massive disappointment. Infinitely re spawning enemies until you cross an invisible line has been removed and that was another criticism from Call of Duty 4 but it's been fixed thankfully.
There's a real good amount of guns and accessories for each gun. Gun play is smooth as usual and there's a nice lock on feature when you're zooming in. Most weapons have a fair bit of modifications, thermal scopes, ACOG scopes, red dot sights and heartbeat monitors. These come in handy during certain missions, like if you're in a snow storm and have the heart beat monitor, you can see everyone on the heart beat monitor that you can't see in the storm. Even having an extra long zoom such as the ACOG scopes really help with long range enemies.
For multiplayer, you can have different equipment. Some of the weapons you can choose are: Sticky grenades (semtex grenades), throwing knives and claymore mines. A new addition to the grenades is the grenade physics. Unlike Call of Duty 4 where you'll get killed by some of the most unrealistic grenade kills, Modern Warfare 2 has new grenade physics that react to environments and objects. At one point I was on a hill and an enemy threw a grenade at me, obviously I decided to turn and run away but the grenade followed me down the hill and ended up blowing me up. The physics are a nice touch to the grenades and in multiplayer, they don't just get spammed across the entire map for some cheap and easy kills.
The sound is composed by legendary sound composer 'Han Zimmer' and he does a magnificent job composing the game score for Modern Warfare 2. When there's a lot of climatic moments in the game, the music sets the scene and sets a powerful mood. You can see why Infinity Wards first choice was Han Zimmer as he's done a wonderful job.
The guns have a smooth crisp sound as they shoot, each weapon has a nice sound to it. Grenades are wonderful as well when they explode with a nice loud ka-boom! Chopper noises in the game are a letdown though as they don't sound as realistic as it could've been (In Multiplayer only though).
I'm going to be as honest as possible here, Modern Warfare 2s story is woeful and has more plot holes than Terminator Salvation. The story is all over the place and for most of it, makes no sense and leaves the player scratching their heads as they try and figure out what's going on; on their own. The reason I loved Call of Duty 4 so much was because of how engaging the story is, this just isn't the case with Modern Warfare 2 and if Modern Warfare 2 is lacking something, it's the story.
Towards the end of the game, around the last three levels, the story is explained more but it seems like it's been rushed and not thought out so well. It's as if Infinity Ward had even confused themselves with where the story was going so they decided to add in a level dedicated to explaining the story. when you finally finish the game, it decides to leave the story open for another sequel and a 'what will happen next' type situation.
Multiplayer is a huge disappointment after what Call of Duty 4 left. The first issue with multiplayer is that the maps are way to big, they're massive!! This just leaves people open to camping which isn't what Call of Duty is about, the run and gun style gameplay. The second issue is Infinity Wards new matchmaking system, it's horrible and always puts you in lag filled games. You can have a full room of Australians and one American and that American will usually end up hosting the game which lags for everyone else. A great feature implemented though is the host migration, if the game is too laggy or the host leaves then the new system will find a new host. Most of the time host migration ruins games for us but it's a step in the right direction. The invite system is a joke and takes way to long to send and receive invites. This is especially annoying if you're jumping from game to game looking for a server that isn't just filled with lag. A lot of hardcore or veteran Call of Duty players have already gone back to Call of Duty 4 because the multiplayer is actually better.
Although not all multiplayer is bad, there's not much of a learning curve which is a good thing. Killing another player only takes a few shots so you can rack up the kills quite easily. Killsteaks can be overpowered and unbalanced which can change the game at any time but when a chopper or AC130 gunner is spawned, it's usually game over. Infinity Ward have heard the cries of many international players and are soon going to be adding in a region select filter to reduce the lag but there's no telling when that could come. So until then, multiplayer is just classed as a disappointment.
Spec Ops is easily the best part of this game. Infinity Ward didn't want to ruin the experience of Single Player so they added new missions called Spec Ops that allow split screen, online or even single player. There's a wide variety of missions to choose from here and there's quite a lot of detail and care put into this new mode.
There's a total of 69 stars you can get, you get one star for beating the level on recruit, two stars for beating it on regular and three stars for beating it on veteran. You can have a guest play with you on split screen and they can also gain stars from completing the levels on the different difficulties. A lot of the levels are inspired by single player levels and some are even inspired by Call of Duty 4 levels.
After you beat single player, you're definitely going to want to check this out. It's the most fun you're going to have with this game. There's no fun in playing by yourself though so get an online friend or a real life friend to play split screen with you. There's tons of replay value here, to beat all levels on veteran is going to take you around 15-25 hours depending on how you play through.
The game doesn't live up to the hype with an incredibly short single player, a multiplayer that is full of lag and and campers but an awesome co op mode that will last you ages with a stack of re playability.
Graphics: 9.5. The graphics are top notch compared to a lot of next gen games.
Gameplay: 10. Combat is broken up so you don't get sick of playing this game all at once. New features such as snowmobiles, scuba diving etc. One step forward for the FPS genre.
Sound: 10 Han Zimmer does an excellent job with the musical score.
Story: 4. Huge disappointment after what Call of Duty 4 left us with.
Multiplayer: 7. Another huge disappointment after what Call of Duty 4 left us with.
Spec Ops: 10. The best part of the game.
Replayability: 9. Spec Ops gives you a great range of replayability, same with multiplayer if you can endure it until there's a fix. Single Player is probably a pass though.